Essential Tracks This Week: Jessica Pratt, Beyoncé, and more

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Jessica Pratt

We’re closing out March with one of our most eclectic batches of Essential Tracks we’ve seen this year so far. (Which pairs nicely with a similarly eclectic set of Best New Releases!) Baroque pop from an indie folk favorite, a pop legend delivering an absolute banger, psychedelic metal, hazy indie rock and…a Twitch streamer going Brazilian funk? It’s true! Check out our favorite new songs this week.

Jessica Pratt – “World on a String”

“Life Is,” the first taste of music from Jessica Pratt’s first new album in five years, Here in the Pitch, found the L.A. singer/songwriter reveling in a more maximalist arrangement rather than the stark, psychedelic folk that has characterized all of her albums thus far. “World on a String” scales back only a little—in its opening strums, Pratt seems to return to that intimate space where only her voice and guitar are necessary to evoke daydream visions and a broad spectrum of bittersweet melancholy. But when it subtly builds up into a more richly layered baroque pop song, complete with a gorgeously infectious chorus, Pratt reaffirms her commitment to more elegantly entangled sounds. While Pratt credits her own perfectionism for the somewhat lengthy wait that’s led to this album’s creation, songs like “World on a String” are proof that a great thing simply can’t be rushed. – JT

From Here In the Pitch, out May 3 via Mexican Summer

Beyoncé – “Ya Ya”

Beyoncé’s Cowboy Carter arrives today, unofficially the Beyoncé “Country album,” though officially—per her own words—”This ain’t a Country album. This is a ‘Beyoncé’ album.” One of the greatest moments on the 27-track 70-plus-minute record is “Ya Ya,” a song that’s definitely not country. For starters, it incorporates elements of Nancy Sinatra’s “Boots” and Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations,” perhaps reflective of a broader definition of Americana than specifically roots music. But more than that, it’s just an out-and-out banger of a song, a raw, high-energy rock-and-soul number that sounds like it would be a barnburner live—and it most definitely is on record. – JT

From Cowboy Carter, out now via Parkwood

IShowSpeed – “Seven” 

April Fools Day may be around the corner but full disclosure, this is not a joke. IShowSpeed might’ve just won the loudness war, (surprisingly) not with his chaotic mic-peaking livestreams, but with an ear shattering funk mandelão banger inspired by a recent trip to Brazil. Of course, it’s not a completely serious effort from the ostentatious Twitch streamer (he throws in a verse about sucking off Cristiano Ronaldo), but the rapturous production from DJs Luan and Shonci is a noisy, hypnotic and mind blowing composition that makes up for the low effort lyrics. The buzzing bass is turnt all the way up to an earthshaking degree and throws in this absurd, high pitched timbre reminiscent of a jet engine, but it works so well with the rest of the track’s brashness. If this doesn’t make you want to set your room ablaze with fireworks, consider turning up the volume until your speakers start rumbling. – ME

Out now

Inter Arma – “Concrete Cliffs”

Inter Arma’s commitment to exploring the depths of heavy music beyond simply one avenue of metal has made them one of the most consistently interesting bands in metal, particularly when it offers them the opportunity to blur stylistic lines even further. “Concrete Cliffs” finds the band swirling thunderous heaps of sludge within the hazy drift of Pink Floyd-like psychedelia, not unlike they did with 2016’s “Summer Drones,” but with a more dramatic distance between its poles of melodic miasma and climactic eruptions. At only five and a half minutes, it’s also pretty concise by the band’s own standards, but within that relatively brief span, they explore a broad but exciting horizon. – JT

From New Heaven, out April 26 via Relapse

Melkbelly – “KMS Express”

Chicago indie rockers Melkbelly returned this week with a two-song single written as reflections on the parts of humanity that retethered them after lockdown in 2020 and 2021. But “KMS Express,” the longer of the two, feels more manic, like that late spring moment that many of us had four years ago when panic began to set in and uncertainty about the future started to drive us all a little crazy. It’s an absolute ripper of a song, veering between raucous, Pixies-like outbursts and a woozy, almost shoegazey groove. It’s a balance of extremes that puts a new spin on the tried-and-true trick of alt-rock’s loud-quiet-loud tropes, building something bigger after the explosion’s over and the dust settles. – JT

Out now via Exploding in Sound

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